Short Story/Serial Monday – No Pain, No Gain – Part 15


It’s been a while since we checked in on Dr. Haybrook, Gini and poor Joyce. I took a break from this serial during the holidays, but it’s back with a vengeance and coming to a climax, but not quite yet.

Please enjoy the latest installment of No Pain, No Gain


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No Pain, No Gain – Part 15

Strong chemicals didn’t work. Electrical shock didn’t work. Microwaves and non-lethal radiation didn’t work. As Gini repeatedly tested small samples of Haybrook’s blood, she became increasingly frustrated and he became increasingly more difficult to get samples from. Finally, a look came over Haybrook’s face. At first, she was concerned.

“What is it, Dr. Haybrook? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I just had an idea.”

Haybrook seemed to shake himself back to reality and he was off to a small closet in the outbuilding.

“What are you looking for?”

“I hope it’s still in here. Give me a second. Ah, here it is.”

Haybrook came back to the worktable with a black rectangular device with a protruding pair of copper coils.

“What is that? Are we jumpstarting an engine?” Gini asked.

“No. It’s a little something I rigged up for another project I was working on. It’s an EMP generator.”

“Interesting. You think an electro magnetic pulse might have an effect on the nano-tech?”

“Well, they are miniature machines that run on electricity. I’ve been able to disrupt appliances with this device, why not nano-tech?”

“Don’t forget, your body is also run by electricity. You don’t want to kill both.”

“We’ll just have to carefully regulate the power so that we kill the tech and not the human components.”

“Where do we start?”

“We will start at the maximum that a human can tolerate and adjust from there. It’s the only way we’ll be sure it’s effective.”

“Do you think that’s wise?”

“Maybe not, but time is running short and we don’t have a choice.”

Haybrook removed his shirt and instructed Gini how to wrap the coils correctly.

“Just wrap them around my chest. Be sure that you don’t allow contact between the two coils and that they are ¼ of an inch apart.”

“I’m a little nervous about this,” Gini said as she carefully wrapped the coils around Haybrook’s torso.

“Me too, honestly, but the risk is actually fairly low at this setting. We’ll keep it below lethal levels for a normal human, but I am becoming less normal. I can feel it.”

Gini heard something in Haybrook’s voice. He was concerned and had urgency, but he also had the wonder of discovery that made him the leading scientist that he had become.

“Some research suggests that strong EMP may have substantial effect on the cognitive processes of the left hemisphere of the brain. This research suggests that EMP can temporarily short-circuit the logical circuitry,” she said, thinking of the man’s brilliance.

“It’s only at very high levels that the magnetism can affect human metabolism. We won’t start with a high EMP. In fact, my little device can’t reach those levels.”

Gini seemed somewhat reassured. Haybrook checked the settings one more time, braced himself by holding the sides of the worktable and gave her a nod. Gini depressed the red button on the unit and depressed the button on top.

She felt the hair on her arms stand on end and saw Haybrook quiver a bit. She also noticed the green luminescent flash in his eyes just before he lost consciousness.

********

Stern and Burgess waited for the crime lab techs to arrive before entering Hanson’s home. Visual inspection told them that there were no signs of forced entry. As he peered through the window, Stern saw no toppled furniture or broken fixtures that would indicate a prolonged struggle. Of course, he didn’t expect this kind of evidence since he had just spoken with Hanson on the phone less than thirty minutes earlier.

Without disturbing the approach to the house further with their footprints, Stern and Burgess backed away as the crime lab used yellow police tape to cordon off the perimeter. The coroner and crime lab arrived within 20 minutes and began their work much like a colony of bees working away in their hive. Once the evidence was collected from both entrances to the house, the crime lab supervisor, Ted Gibson, nodded to Stern.

“We’re ready for you detective,” Gibson said. “We’ve started tagging the evidence and we’ve begun retrieving prints. The M.E. has looked at the body.”

“What’s her initial take?” Burgess asked.

“You’ll have to check with her on the specifics, but she said the time of death was very recent based on the core liver temperature.”

“We know that,” Stern interrupted. “We just talked to the guy a little over an hour ago.”

“Well, we can assume he was alive when you talked to him,” Gibson said with just a hint of sarcasm.

“What about the cause of death?” Burgess asked.

“GSW to the back of the head. Small entry wound with no exit wound,” Gibson said. “The bullet likely ricocheted around inside his head and turned his brain to scrambled eggs.”

“That’s your expert opinion?” Stern asked.

“Based on what I saw, yes,” Gibson said.

The conversation ended, as many did, without a thank you. All parties were doing their jobs.

Stern and Burgess left Gibson and made their way inside the house.

“Glove up and use foot protection, gentlemen,” came the authoritative, yet feminine voice of Jill Chase, Coroner/Medical Examiner for Bernalillo County, New Mexico.

Chase, extremely confident and attractive, was one of the youngest doctors promoted to her position in the county’s history, and one of the few females. She always dressed in flattering attire and heels, no matter how rural the high-desert crime scene might be. Her shoes were neatly placed outside the rear sliding door of Hanson’s house and she war protective coverings over flats that she carried with her.

“So, they’ve got you two working this case?” Chase asked.

“Actually, we discovered the body,” Stern answered. “Mr. Hanson here was a lead on another case.”

“Well, I think this lead has hit a dead end,” Chase said without looking up as she maneuvered the body for a better view of the entry wound.

Gallows humor was common at murder scenes to lighten the mood. Coroners and homicide detectives rarely, if ever, came away with live crime victims. Stern ignored the joke.

“It looks like a professional hit. Anything unusual?” Stern asked.

“Not at all. Text book. Small caliber weapon. Likely a .380 or .22. Won’t know until we crack his coconut and dig out the bullet. No exit wound. I’m likely going to find a brain smoothie when I get him on the table.”

“That’s what we suspected,” Burgess said. “Doesn’t hurt to ask.”

“We’ll leave you to it, Doc,” Stern said as they turned to leave.”

As they exited the house, they ran into Gibson casting footprints in the sand.

“Anything else we should know on this Gibson?” Stern asked.

“No. You guys leaving?”

“Yes. This case has two suspicious situations, one guy missing and the other executed. Both of them tied to that Kongo Fit company. We don’t believe in coincidences,” Burgess answered.

“Kongo Fit. Their the ones that make that Buff Cuff thing,” Gibson said. “My wife has one of those and she has become obsessed with working out. I swear, I hate that damn thing. She’s got me eating that healthy rabbit food along with her. The other night I snuck a cheeseburger from the takeout on the way home and she smelled it on me like a damn bloodhound.”

“You could probably afford a few less cheeseburgers,” Stern said. “Anyway, we’re going to go back to Kongo Fit and shake the trees and see if any monkeys fall out.”

Gibson got back to his work and Stern and Burgess got back into their vehicle to return to the Kongo Fit offices.

********

“Dr. Haybrook, Are you okay?” Gini shook Haybrook’s shoulder trying to bring him back to some semblance of awareness. His eyes were open and he was breathing, but he appeared unfocused and lethargic.

“Blood,” he mumbled.

“Blood? Where?”

“Draw blood,” he blurted with obvious effort.

Gini grabbed a vial and, after several attempts and additional broken needles, was able to grab a drop of deep red blood to put on a slide. She settled Haybrook into a chair and mounted the slide on the platform of the microscope.

“Interesting,” she said after about a minute of examination.

“What’s interesting?” Haybrook said with a bit more clarity.

“Let me put it up on my tablet for you. I have a video clip.”

Haybrook looked at the screen and furrowed his brow.

“Put it at normal speed so we can see the movement more accurately.”

“Doctor Haybrook, that is normal speed.”

“So, their moving more slowly. This is good. Maybe not the ultimate solution, but we’ve damaged them. I also feel a bit different after the pulse. We just need to adjust the voltage upward.”

“Doctor, it might kill you,” Gini said with alarm.

“I doubt that, Gini. But, at any rate, I maxed out my little homegrown EMP unit. We need something more industrial to ensure this is going to work more permanently.”

“I don’t like it, Doctor. Besides, where are we going to get a device with that kind of power.”

Haybrook pushed up his glasses and a calmness came over his face.

“I may know just the place. It may involve us doing something illegal, however, so if you want out at any point…”

“Illegal? Compared to what appears to be going on at Kongo Fit, I’m in this to the end. I’m not becoming a scientist only to watch technology become bastardized this way.”

Haybrook smiled.

“I was hoping you’d say that. Let’s go. The clock is ticking.”

“Go where?” Gini asked.

“Well, back to Kongo Fit, of course. It’s time to scale up our plan and take back our technology.

The unlikely duo headed out of the outbuilding to Haybrook’s car. Haybrook didn’t notice the utility van that settled into traffic about a quarter mile behind his vehicle.


If you want to catch up on the previous week’s installments, the links are below:

20 thoughts on “Short Story/Serial Monday – No Pain, No Gain – Part 15

  1. Pingback: Writing Links 1/15/18 – Where Genres Collide

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